- All eyes turn to Bernanke
- Mining stocks wanted early on after recent losses
- Redrow Chairman makes takeover approach
Stock markets across Europe have been rather subdued over the past few days and the opening hour of Friday's session was no different as investors continued to show caution ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke later this evening.
The big question on everyone's lips - "will Bernanke hint at another imminent round of quantitative easing (QE3)?" - will be answered tonight as the Fed frontman takes the stage in his keynote speech during the meeting of central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
During the lead up to the event, Bernanke was widely expected to announce a new raft of easing measures. However, as Michael Hewson, the senior market analyst at CMC Markets UK, explained this morning, the "buoyant nature" of recent US economic data may have eased the Fed's concerns about the economy and could limit the room for manoeuvre.
"Whatever Bernanke does say it remains quite likely that once the markets have absorbed [it] the focus will inevitably shift towards the next Fed meeting which is scheduled for September 12th and 13th," he said.
Markets will also be looking ahead to a European Central Bank (ECB) meeting on September 6th and the German Constitutional Court ruling on the European Stability Mechanism on September 12th, all labelled as "risk" events by analysts at UniCredit yesterday which could lead to significant volatility on markets.
In other news, following the meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in Berlin yesterday, Merkel has requested that Italy delays its request for aid, according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
FTSE 100: Miners lead the risers early on
Mining stocks were making gains this morning, rebounding after bearing the brunt of 'risk-off' trade over the past few days. Kazakhmys, Vedanta, Glencore, Rio Tinto, Randgold, Polymetal, Fresnillo, Anglo American and ENRC were among the top risers on the FTSE 100 in the opening hour.
Heading the other way was media giant WPP which was extending its losses after having to scale back its full-year like-for-like revenue target yesterday. Societe Generale and Berenberg both reduced their target prices for the stock this morning.
Financial stocks were also unwanted early on with Royal Bank of Scotland, Hargreaves Lansdown, Barclays, Lloyds and Standard Chartered all suffering.
Utilities group SSE was making gains after UBS upgraded its rating for the stock from 'neutral' to 'buy' and hiked its target price by 13% to 1,515p.
FTSE 250: Redrow rises, albeit mildly, on potential takeover
House-builder Redrow was in demand after saying that three investment firms are interested in a takeover, one of which is controlled by the company's Chairman and well-known businessman, Steve Morgan.
While the offer of 152p a share represents a 23.8% premium to the 90-day average share price, the stock has risen strongly in recent weeks on speculation, closing yesterday at 151p.
First-half profits at restaurant and pub operator Restaurant Group came in slightly ahead of expectations, helping the firm to raised its interim dividend by an eighth. Shares edged higher from the off.
Information technology solutions provider Computacenter dropped after reporting a slight fall in profits in the first half as additional start-up costs dented the bottom line.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Kazakhmys (KAZ) 605.00p +3.15%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 883.00p +2.56%
Glencore International (GLEN) 365.05p +2.13%
Fresnillo (FRES) 1,575.00p +2.07%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,112.00p +1.65%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,627.00p +1.62%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 6,280.00p +1.62%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 2,758.50p +1.58%
Xstrata (XTA) 914.40p +1.49%
Anglo American (AAL) 1,777.50p +1.37%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
WPP (WPP) 809.50p -1.10%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 610.50p -1.05%
Barclays (BARC) 182.10p -0.76%
Carnival (CCL) 2,169.00p -0.73%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 33.02p -0.66%
National Grid (NG.) 689.00p -0.58%
Centrica (CNA) 329.70p -0.54%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 665.50p -0.52%
Severn Trent (SVT) 1,747.00p -0.51%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 182.20p -0.49%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Heritage Oil (HOIL) 198.80p +3.27%
New World Resources A Shares (NWR) 277.10p +3.05%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 163.50p +2.77%
Redrow (RDW) 155.10p +2.72%
Mondi (MNDI) 557.00p +2.39%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 279.20p +1.90%
Investec (INVP) 380.60p +1.85%
Centamin (DI) (CEY) 77.05p +1.65%
Hansteen Holdings (HSTN) 73.95p +1.58%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 821.00p +1.55%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Bwin.party Digital Entertainment (BPTY) 96.20p -2.83%
Computacenter (CCC) 359.90p -2.70%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 60.00p -2.68%
Ted Baker (TED) 985.50p -2.23%
Telecom Plus (TEP) 795.93p -2.22%
Dunelm Group (DNLM) 589.50p -1.83%
IP Group (IPO) 125.00p -1.81%
Aquarius Platinum Ltd. (AQP) 36.65p -1.66%
Dixons Retail (DXNS) 17.12p -1.61%
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC) 472.90p -1.40%